Sunday, 21 November 2010

Funny Video

I thought this was hilarious because in Yeshiva I literally sat through hundreds of these idiotic Divrei Torah. I wish I would've stood up and asked some of these questions to the ignorant bochurim proudly parroting some piece of wisdom found in a "D'var Torah compendium" yet were still unaware that the famous Biblical commentator did not author a commentary called "the Stone of Ezra"


Scott said...

The machlokes in this video is a well known machlokes rishonim, most famously in Genesis 26:5 Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Rasag, Ramban, and Radak, but elsewhere as well. While the author of the video intends to mock, it is clear that the midrash, and the rishonim, achronin, gedolim, and yeshiva buchrim who agree with it, are being quite serious - so we must try to understand their perspective.

I think the point is that the midrash views halacha with a certain sense of cosmic significance not recognized by the women in the video. For example, why is it that we don't eat the gid hanushe? The women in the video, or the Even Ezrah, might view this as a simple historical accident. A man once accidently injured Yaakov in the gid, so we abstain from the gid as a commemoration. If so, I agree that it seems somewhat silly that Yaakov would keep this halacha before he was actually injured in the gid. Perhaps, though, the midrash sees much more in the mitzvah of the gid. It is not simply a historical accident but is laden with cosmic significance and intense meaning. To them, the story of Yaakov and the gid is not a mere accident. On the contrary, it is only because of the gid's cosmic significance that the angel of Esav injured Yaakov in that exact spot. With that perspective, it is understandable why Yaakov would abstain from the gid even before the fight with the angel.

It is interesting that modern scholars, such as Noth, have a tendency to view the stories in the Torah in an etiological manner quite similar to the midrash. For them, we could argue that the mitzvah of the gid predated the story about Yaakov and the man and that the story was only invented as an attempt to explain this more ancient ritual surrounding the gid.

One might argue that this talk of cosmic significance is silly. I ask you this - which is sillier? Believing that there is some cosmic significance to the gin hanushe? Or believing that for 4,000 years, people should abstain from the gid hanushe because one time, this one guy got a limp?

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